Book Review: The Republican Brain by Chris Mooney

The weight of the evidence Mooney presents for the simple idea that liberals and conservatives process information differently is incontrovertible. And in the current political context, those differences are ever more apparent.

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The first thing you need to do when you pick up Chris Mooney’s The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science—and Reality is get over whatever initial reaction you have to the title.

Partisan labels are so loaded that it’s easy for liberals and conservatives alike to mistake Mooney’s nuanced overview of psychological research for a jeremiad about “stupid conservatives.”

And, in fact, that reaction has typified many conservative and some liberal responses to the book.

Which sort of proves Mooney’s point.


Thinking is more important than information

Decades ago, social scientists started tearing down the Enlightenment view that human beings rationally and methodically process information. In the old view, our brains were like filing cabinets into which we inserted new information to synthesize. In reality, we are motivated reasoners: we use facts and information to justify what we want to believe.

In many cases, the more educated or “smarter” someone is, the more able they are to seek out information that justifies their views. There’s a fundamental difference, one of the researchers in Mooney’s book points out, between being stupid and being misinformed.

And Mooney’s book is all about misinformation, the brains it lands in, and how it gets there.


What’s the difference between dominant liberalism and dominant conservatism?

One of the chief values that underpins liberalism, Mooney argues, is “Openness.” Liberals are more likely to be open to new experiences, new cultures, and new ideas. They embrace uncertainty, ambiguity and messiness. Conservatives are more likely to exhibit Conscientiousness: a need for order, stability, clarity and cleanliness. As he puts it, people who rate high on conscientiousness are, “highly goal oriented, competent, and organized—and, on average, politically conservative.”

But the other side of the Conscientious coin is a need for “closure” and definitive answers. Often, science doesn’t provide them. And whenever science appears to conflict with the values of someone with a strong need for closure, they’re more likely to reject the science.


We are all liberals, we are all conservatives

At various points in the book, Mooney weaves in a more nuanced view of the liberal-conservative divide. Many social scientists rely on four variables, not two, to describe how people view society: a predilection toward hierarchical structures that justify those who succeed vs. an egalitarian view that emphasizes fairness to all and a view of the world that emphasizes individual rights vs. one that tends toward community needs. Ultimately, American political movements have aligned along these four variables in different combinations over the years, but today extreme conservatives happen to be hierarchical individualists while extreme liberals tends to be communitarian egalitarians. While cumbersome, these terms get to deeper truths about how people think about the world.

There are several points in the book where Mooney compliments conservatives for their decisiveness and ability to bring order to the world. For instance, conservatives are more likely to work in hierarchical organizations like police forces and the military. And thank goodness for that. A country full of anti-authoritarians would probably be pretty ripe for invasion. And he suggests that societies are “balanced” by cooperation among conservatives and liberals.

A personal detour

Reading the opening chapters, I found I identified with both Openness and Conscientiousness. I took an OCEAN test online, which measures Openness, Conscientiousness and three other “Big Five” personality measurements. And, indeed, I rated high on both openness and conscientiousness. Certainly, I’m open to new ideas. And the uncertainties and probabilities inherent in life are something I’m happy to take as a given. I assume everyone I meet has a unique and valid life perspective worth learning about. But a look at my office or home will reveal my high levels of Conscientiousness. I like things clean, simple and organized. And if anyone I know ever does anything I consider unethical, they’re kind of dead to me.

Maybe that’s why I like playing poker. I’m happy to operate in a world of probability and uncertainty, but at the end of each hand, there is closure. And over time, you are either a winner or loser.


How these personality traits play out in the real world

Mooney’s psychological primer — which is full of fascinating summaries of clever, thought-provoking studies — provides a base layer of understanding as he moves into the changes in American politics and media that have made it easier for misinformation to find a willing home in many Americans’ brains, particularly the most extreme hierarchical individualists that have aligned into the conservative movement.

He covers the assimilation of Southern Democrats into the Republican Party and the resulting polarization in American politics as the country sorted itself along party lines. And he talks about the fascinating political journey Phyllis Schlafley took to illustrate how the conservative movement has changed over her lifetime. He chronicles the rise of the intellectual right and the expanded universe of think tanks that sprang up in the 1970s to provide analysis that justifies conservative ideology and policy.

He also covers the dominance of Fox News, talk radio and partisan blogs as information sources for conservatives. Their combined power and links to think tanks and the Republican Party can create an information bubble that can easily turn into a misinformation bubble.

From death panels to revisionist histories of America’s founding, the misinformation machine is an equal-opportunity weapon against reality. As Shawn Lawrence Otto ably demonstrates in Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America, we happen to be living in a time when scientists have discovered problems such as climate change that can hit a lot of ideological buttons and become ready targets for hierarchical / individualist oriented think tanks that feed misinformation into the bubble.


But aren’t liberals guilty of the same biases?

Not really, Mooney argues. And certainly, I laugh whenever anyone equates Fox to MSNBC or NPR. Fox is so much more entertaining and delivers a coherent narrative to its viewers. MSNBC and NPR simply have different missions.

Mooney argues that liberals can certainly slip into anti-science and assimilate misinformation. But those anti-scientific views aren’t allowed to dominate the liberal extremes or cross over into the mainstream.

Take the vaccine-autism “debate” for instance. It’s a natural for extreme liberals who fear any possibility of environmental harm to believe misinformation linking vaccine use to autism, Mooney says. But leaders of that movement, including celebrities like Jenny McCarthy, have found their claims rejected by opinion elites on the left. So anti-vaccination attitudes have only gained a tenuous foothold in communities Mooney calls “granola” like Ashland, Oregon and Boulder, Colorado.

Mooney credits liberals’ Openness with their faculty for criticizing one another and reining in their extremists. And he points to other examples from nuclear power to natural gas fracking to prove his point. The bad claims and the extremists’ craziest arguments get weeded out of the system. There is, he says, “a psychology of disobedience and anti-authoritarianism on the left that ensures that those making these claims will be challenged, sometimes quite vigorously or even viciously.”

Put another way, when Ann Coulter says something provocative, conservatives share it on Facebook and say “Right on!” When Michael Moore says something provocative, his fellow liberals pounce on him for not being nuanced or accurate enough. If pressed, they will say they pretty much agree with what he says, but they don’t like how he says it.

Mooney puts a finer point on it by telling stories about David Frum and other conservatives who were booted from their movement by being “too open” to new ideas and too willing to criticize their brethren. Meanwhile, Democrats rarely boot apostates from their ranks.

Ultimately, I found the shifting power dynamics of political movements and the media environments in which they operate a stronger explanation for where we stand today than the psychological research. And Mooney acknowledges that some of the most interesting and startling findings from social science research come with a healthy dose of uncertainty themselves.


So what do we do about it?

Mooney’s closing chapter contains some concrete suggestions for how to address anti-science. This is a step up from Unscientific America, which he coauthored with Sheril Kirshenbaum. Like many readers, I enjoyed the book, but wanted a lot more discussion about what to do about the sorry state of our public discourse around scientific topics.

First, Mooney argues, we need to come to grips with the fact that more facts won’t win the day if people are predisposed to rejecting or ignoring them. Mooney argues that listening to people and helping them see how their worldview is affirmed – not threatened – by scientific findings is one way to overcome these challenges.

He also encourages journalists to become more conversant in how liberals and conservatives view the world and to communicate that to their audiences. So don’t just tell us there’s a budget disagreement tell us why liberals’ egalitarian values and conservatives’ personal responsibility values are in conflict over spending and debt. In other words, stop letting politicians simply talk past each other.

He says liberals should learn to be more decisive and cites the Occupy Wall Street movement and the ongoing European debt crisis as typical liberal discussion-fests lacking clear leadership, focus or a willingness to make decisions. Heck, the occupiers designed their movement to avoid classic leadership. Sometimes one plan, any plan, is much better than endless debate.



Mooney’s book offers a combination of detail, breeziness and narrative that should satisfy anyone who is frustrated by the prevalence of misinformation in America’s political debates, particularly scientific misinformation.

And he offers some tantalizing suggestions for how this might be effectively addressed.

But more importantly, like any good science fan, he calls for more research. And he acknowledges his own uncertainty about his conclusions.

But, overall, the weight of the evidence Mooney presents for the simple idea that liberals and conservatives process information differently is incontrovertible. And in the current political context, those differences are ever more apparent.

And that’s a fact we should all accept if we’re interested in making our democracy stronger.

14 thoughts on “Book Review: The Republican Brain by Chris Mooney”

  1. As a conservative I will admit I read that book title and said to myself “Wow, more left-wing bullshit,” but you/Mooney does bring up a good point about how we don’t reign in our nutty extremists like the left-wing does (Granted there are batshit insane lefties like Pelosi etc.). In my opinion the fact that instead of calling out our own extremists and telling them that they are effin’ crazy, we have chosen to embrace them uniting in an us vs. them mentality; which has caused the Republican party to skew so far off from what I would like to see.

    This is coming from a true conservative; a registered Republican voter. Good article (you tree Draft Dodgin’Hippy! [joking])

  2. Great review Aaron. I finished the book about 20 minutes ago and yours is the best review I have come across on the web so far. I am a little surprised by how little interest this book appears to have generated.
    I was initially taken with Mooney’s thesis that conservatives attitudes have some physical/physiological common denominator. On the other hand I find the authors’ rather passive faith in Psychology to “explain” politics a little disingenuous. I am surprised to find Mooney apparently unaware that a mountain of literature exists calling this kind of credulity toward behavioral science into question. The scientific standing of Psychology has been under sustained attack from within its own ranks for half century. I am inclined to think of Psychology as primarily a business with dubious scientific credentials. Mooney has gone far out of his way to hitch his own credability to what he refers to as “enlightenment values”. I would have expected him to approach the topic of Psychology with a measure of scientific scepticism that is noticeably absent.
    One of Mooney’s chief weaknesses in his project is that in seeking deploy scientific authority to trump democratic equality is he really fails to engage the body of work drawn from critical theory that have examined class politics and discovered a highly rational methodology by which bourgeois elites defend their class interests.
    Unless scientific theory begins pay some attention to its own cultural politics, scientific expertise will continue to conduct its business in ways that tend to reinforce the existing distribution of power and privelige of which they in turn are cleary a benaficiary. What Mooney writes about and yet remains unconcous of lies in the domain where political power and class interest overlap.

    1. I think one possible answer to your question is that the author did not think through the title too well or his liberalism and Democrat Party affiliation was irrepressibly strong and he could contain it. Looking at the title it seems Chris intended it for a religiously dedicated liberal Democrat audience who needs a reinforcement of their positions using scientific cover-up. Taking into account the latest Gallup poll that came out this Friday 2/1/2013 that audience is small: America’s composition along the liberal / conservative coordinates is 23% liberal and 38% conservative.

      Best Regards

      Valentin Dumitrescu Dearborn, MI

  3. Where is the “brilliant” progressive mind to make the case against fighting against natural laws because it hurts: 1) scientifically proven direct correlations between abortion and higher breast cancer risks or 2) strong correlation between homosexuality lifestyle and AIDS?
    This is more of a rhetorical question because we know there are politically correct scientific battles and taboo battles that should not supported even with the strongest scientific data. We already have entered an era when science is politicized and I am afraid when scientists cannot be trusted to speak objectively in areas that are not politically correct.

    Good luck.

    PS: Not to brag, but I attempt to eliminate a possible “straw man” tactic disregarding my statements. I am a proud Republican holder of two MS Degrees (not in social sciences or literature, which is not a science anyway, that seem to be two areas that live in the Lala land of social engineering and fiction but not in reality ) but in Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science.

    1. Hey, Valentin. Thanks for commenting.

      I do think there are strong examples where liberals have rejected science. Historically, as Mooney points out, Democrats rejected evolution, nominating Williams Jennings Bryan of Scopes-Monkey trial fame as their presidential nominee. In the modern day, I could point to particularly dramatic overstatements of certain types of risks from various industries and the general antipathy among some liberals toward things that aren’t “natural.” I could also point to the sad, sorry history of the anti-vaccine movement. The latter first gained traction among left-leaning Hollywood types and, as Mooney calls them “granola” communities, but today — and since I wrote this review — seems to be crossing the vast political divide. Any way you slice it, it’s anti-science with a body count.

      Regarding breast cancer and abortions, I think that in aggregate the science does not back up your claim. See for instance, this review from the National Cancer Institute. If there’s any group of people who would raise the alarm about a credible cancer risk, it would be those folks, so I take their research and considered judgment seriously.

      Before I get into the science on the next topic, I should point out that “homosexual lifestyle” is a pretty loaded term. Most people who hear that, including me, see it as implying that homosexuality is a conscious choice. All the gay people I know are just plain-old gay. They didn’t adopt a “lifestyle” like some hipster trying on their first pair of skinny jeans. Certainly, I don’t feel I ever adopted a “heterosexual lifestyle,” though I’d venture that most light-beer ads tend not to resonate with me. In any case, you may be interested to learn more about research which found evidence that HIV transmission from unprotected anal sex was the same for both gay and heterosexual populations. The solutions to HIV / AIDS rest in getting more people — regardless of their sexual orientation — to use protection. Regardless, where are liberals claiming that gay men AREN’T at high risk for HIV / AIDS?

      I didn’t like the book’s title, either. But I really liked the content, so in the final analysis, I wanted to urge people to “get over” the title and dive in. The research can be challenging, but I think it’s solid.

      Finally, it’s a mistake to dismiss all of social science. Of course, it’s not as precise as engineering. Physical structures are much less complicated than the biological, self-aware machines we call Homo sapiens.

      1. REF lethal suppression of scientific truth in the Abortion Breast Cancer (ABC) link.
        The 2003 NCI report is politically motivated because of the strong pro-abortion lobby in Washington.
        Dr., PhD Louise A. Brinton: who was the chief organizer of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) workshop in 2003 has reversed her position and now admits that abortion and oral contraceptives raise breast cancer risks. Together with Jessica Doile, Cancer researcher at Fred Hutchinson institute et al she authored a 2009 research paper concluding a 40% increased breast cancer risk due to use of oral contraceptives and induced abortions. Here are their official 2009 research papers: or another link to the same 2009 research:
        This suppression of scientific truth is not harmless: it costs many women their lives.

        REF homosexuality and another lethal suppression of scientific truth:
        Here are a few points regarding the homosexual lifestyle, its anal sex behavior and the solutions to it.
        1. Homosexual means a man who has sexual relationships with another person of the same (Homo) sex (sexual). And man with man sex is mostly though the anus. I do not understand what difference you want make between people who have anal sex and homosexuals
        2. I did not find any scientific research supporting the fact that homosexuals are born homosexuals and that their lifestyle is not by choice. But if there was, that would be another birth defect like any other defects that we recognize but for some reason we refuse to recognize this one as a birth defect. I do not say this lightly because I had homosexual friends and I do not think I can ever imagine the pain of your mind being in dissonance with your body.
        3. How do you recognize a disease? I assume by having a certain standard of health, a significant component of that standard being the natural laws, how things ought to be. How is it then that you do not recognize by that same standard, that homosexuality is un-natural? I am amazed at your “scientific” solution to AIDS. Instead of correcting the risky behavior, you recommend having protected anal sex. This is similar to telling somebody who likes the engine coolant taste (btw is sweet and tasty) to use some formula that would neutralize its effect every time after ingesting it.
        But now where were we? Oh yes: “To trust or not to trust” the scientific statements made by groups that have an ideological bias. I feared reaching this conclusion but it is inevitable: when science crosses paths with ideology and moral behavior that is in contradiction with reality, the ideologues and morally deviant people will sacrifice science on the altar of ideology and moral preferences.

        I see you are young and I have hope that you will develop the nobility of facing objective truth even if it does not reinforce your ideology. That is courage and I wish you that.

        Sincerely Valentin Dumitrescu, Dearborn, MI

        1. I see you are young.

          That’s demeaning. I could just as easily say “I see you are old,” and conclude your views are outdated. But that’s a useless ad hominem argument. If I retain my views over the next 50 years, for instance, which age must I attain in order for them to become valid? 38 and a quarter?

          Calling homosexuality a “birth defect” strikes me as bigoted. I think throughout history, a percentage of the human population has been, is, and will be gay. Some civilizations have accepted that fact, others haven’t. Ours is on the way toward doing so. Comparing the feelings of love someone has toward another to a “birth defect” or snacking on engine coolant fails to recognize their rights as an individual and society’s responsibility to protect minority rights. You say you “had” gay friends. I hope your views regarding why they love other people of the same gender weren’t the main reason you’re using the past tense there. The study I pointed to examined the behavior of anal sex regardless of gender; transmission of HIV / AID through unprotected anal sex is not just a gay problem.

          Where’s the proof for political interference in the NCI study? I see a lot of religious websites that cherry-pick all the studies that fall on the side of the line they like. And has Brinton publicly stated that she’s “reversed” her position or have people just characterized her research that way?

          1. I did not mean to demean you because of your age. I searched the internet and I found out that you defended young scientists whose scientific soundness was unfairly questioned because of their age. As long as your research is backed by science and not an a priori ideologically acquired position, be bold: fight for it. However, my humble advice (I am 53) is that you search for scientific, and why not, ethical truth. It happened to me and I guarantee 100% will happen to you also: the facts / truth may not always reinforce your pre-conceptions but may in fact threaten them. Being threatened by the truth is not bad, but I admit is not pleasant.
            REF: NCI study: why do you mention that there are religious groups cherry picking studies that fit their pre-conceptions? Shall I use a mirror argument and say that there are left wingers who cherry pick studies that reinforce their positions.
            REF Brinton publicly stating her reversal of position. This is irrelevant to the value of scientific research. Have you studied the scientific value of her 2009 paper? I recommend you do. I am a computer scientist. However, it was a good educational read into a field that is foreign to me. The scientific methods she used is what matters. It is reasonable to think that a public position that links abortion to higher risk of cancer would intimidate a scientist to publish any results that would make women think twice about abortion. NARAL and Planned Parenthood and have track record of attacking anything of a scientific or ethical nature that undermines the abortion on-demand that these groups support.

            Ref: homosexuality being a birth defect. My statement was simply addressing yours and others falsely perceived justification of such a lifestyle through birth. I personally think that the majority of gay people chose to be gay sometime in life, due various reasons: experimentation, unbalanced relationships with the parents, peer-pressure (encouragement for other gay people), etc. However, what I was trying to say is that just as people are born with liver or other organ defects and still leave more or less normal lives, similarly, gay people may be born with this painful dissonance between their body and mind but they live more or less normal lives otherwise. Birth defects can be of many natures: physical, psychological. It is not fair to resort to name-calling: you are bigot because you say that. Have you invested any effort to investigate my line of reasoning? I would have appreciated that. Would you accuse anybody who logically expresses a train of thought that contradicts you piston, a bigot? That does not help a civil dialogue.

            Have a nice day and maybe we can keep talking.

          2. Re: The NCI statement. What I meant to convey is that when I searched for Brinton’s statement on her position, the sources I found tended to be anti-abortion websites that said she had reversed her position but offered no quotes or sources to back up that claim. Instead, they discussed the research you cited, then concluded this represented a “reversal.” But I could find no direct, sourced statements from Brinton saying that her paper called the NCI statement into question. Is it more data from her research? Absolutely looks like it to me. Should it alter the NCI consensus statement? I don’t know and I couldn’t find any statements from Brinton to that effect.

            Also, if there is concrete evidence that there was political interference in the NCI statement, I would be very interested to know about that.

            I agree that both left and right-wingers cherry pick all the time. It every politician’s favorite logical fallacy when dealing with science.

            Re: This “birth defect” statement. I didn’t mean to call you a name; I criticized your argument. I would say that gay and straight people are probably “born differently,” but calling something a “defect” is immensely negative.

            How much of being gay do you think is nature vs. nurture? You say you think a “majority” of gay people “choose” to be gay. Does that mean you think some gay people are born gay and don’t have a “choice” in the matter?

            I guess I would just point to the millions of gay people who are physically healthy, have loving and supportive friends and parents, who vote and pay their taxes and ask, how could is possibly be a “birth defect” in the same category as a bad liver? A lot of gay people find a painful dissonance between their desire for people of the same gender and a society that has expected them to be attracted only to the opposite gender. When I hear friends and relatives tell their stories about coming out, there is, often, a great sense of *letting go* of the horrible dissonance they felt trying to live a straight life when everything going on inside them told them they were gay.

            Personally, I’m happy our society is making more room for the full spectrum of sexual identity and expression people have.

  4. Aaron I was wrong. I thought you were a scientist but you are not. You do not have a science degree and this explains the way you approach dialogue involving scientific facts. You reject them if they do not fit your ideology: in this case your pro-abortion and pro-gay ideology. However, you do not reject them, directly because that would expose you as a dogmatist. Instead, you hang onto irrelevant side points in order to avoid a conclusion that contradicts your preconceptions: e.g., Mrs. Brinton did not make an explicit public statement denouncing her previous research. How can you ignore the fact that Mrs. Brinton published her research proving the connection between abortion and breast cancer paper in the AACR (American Association for Cancer Research) journal? This qualifies as a public statement.

    Gay people are born physically all the male reproduction organs and mechanisms: this is a medical fact. But somehow, (by birth) or by choice (it does not matter) their mind believes otherwise. If you do not consider this a painful defect, then again you ignore facts. There is no better compassion, love and care than to start with truth even if it is not convenient and work from there for the resolution of this painful dissonance. But when you start with the lie that homosexuality is OK, then one only reinforces the pain and the pain will go on. It is like a cancer specialist doctor who does not tell the truth to a cancer patient: you have cancer, this can kill you but here is a treatment I propose we go through. But instead, he tells the patient that everything is OK, enjoy life you have a brought future ahead of you when the poor patient struggles daily with the cancer pain and eventually will die. This is cruelty sir. Wake up. Just for your information, there is therapy and cure for homosexuality and organizations that do that.

    Have a good day. I promise you; no matter you are going to reply this is my last post. I wanted to have a talk with a person who was exposed to hard scientific facts in any science domain: physics, chemistry, math, medical, biology, mechanical, computer, genetics, etc. But you do not have any of such and we do nto seem to connect neither in the “cold” domain of logic nor in the domain of real compassion, love, care and mercy.
    PS: However, I have seen scientists with any of the degree mentioned above, who still do not want to face facts that contradict their pre-conception. In order to avoid a truth that is inconvenient, they change the subject on you or bring up unimportant side topics, etc. I think this is because in the end the debate is not only about science. But it is a debate about worldviews: is there objective truth or not, is there objective morality or not. Is there objective good and evil, objective right and wrong?

    1. You want to take your ball and go home? Fine. You want to come up with an excuse to walk away from dialogue that’s challenging your worldview? Hey, you’re welcome to do so. This is just the Internet, after all and the stakes are pretty low.

      But let’s back up a minute here. My background is in public opinion and political communication, which has great bearing on how people process scientific information; and that’s mostly what we’re talking about here.

      Also, I’m perfectly happy to question my assumptions regarding how I filter scientific information based on my ideology. So let’s be 100% clear about when we’re talking about science and when we’re talking about our obviously different value sets, as you get at in your last paragraph.

      Regarding the abortion topic, a scientist published a single research paper that reaches a conclusion on abortion that matches your ideological views. You call this paper “a public statement” rejecting a previously drafted consensus document which challenges your ideological views. But this is simply not the case. You and other pro-life advocates are misrepresenting this scientists’ work to challenge the consensus statement you don’t like.

      Consensus documents are based on multiple peer-reviewed studies. Pointing to a single study does not obviate the consensus statement as you claim it does. Is the paper a piece of evidence that abortion carries risks for patients? Absolutely. Does it show that no one should ever get an abortion? Absolutely not. It’s research that uncovers a risk and I wish it was easier for scientists to study the effects of abortion without having advocates misrepresent their research or their views as you’ve done in this case. I’m sure that this newer paper will be evaluated, along with other research, when and if the consensus document is updated.

      Am I pro-choice? You bet. Am I blind to the medical and psychological harm abortions can cause in some cases? No way. But as someone who understands the difference between ideology and science, I can separately evaluate these claims without feeling threatened by new medical science that challenges my views.

      Further, I’ve asked you twice now to substantiate your claim that the consensus document was subject to political interference. I would ask you to examine why you made this claim. Was it more comfortable for you to believe that the consensus document was based on politics rather than science?

      Your value judgments about gayness are not “facts.” They are your opinion. The facts you’re citing do not make homosexuality “wrong.” You should not pretend that medical science will prove your views on this matter. I’ve struggled with how to convey this difference in our dialogue, so let me try to use an outside example here: the practice of polygamy. It’s certainly outside the mainstream in modern culture, but could you ever imagine any medical science that “proves” the practice is “right” or “wrong”? I’m happy to disagree with you on whether or not homosexuals should have the same rights in society as heterosexuals, but you’re clearly dragging science into your ideological worldview here. Science can tell us that most people aren’t homosexual. Science can tell us that one of the main purposes of the human reproductive system is making babies. Science can also tell us, based on people’s sexual orientation, what sort of risks they face for STIs. But science can’t tell us whether or not how people choose to use their reproductive systems is “right” or “wrong.”

      Finally, I’m surprised you’d bring up “conversion” therapy in this context. Many reputable organizations, including the American Medical Association oppose so-called “conversion” therapy. The AMA writes that it “is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her homosexual orientation.” Similarly, the American Psychological Association flatly rejects the view that homosexuality is a “mental disorder.”

      I’m sure you’ll have some excuse for why you can ignore the AMA or APA’s judgment. But ask yourself, why are you choosing to dismiss them? Is it because you disagree with their medical judgment or is it because scientific society statements you disagree with make you uncomfortable?

      Good day, indeed.

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